National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Help us push for an end to monkey tests this International Primate Day

Posted: 29 August 2014. Updated: 29 August 2014


Revealed by the National Anti-Vivisection Society: the needless use of monkeys for disease research. These painful tests cause untold suffering and waste funds that could otherwise be spent on advanced alternatives. On International Primate Day, September 1st, please help us stop these unnecessary and unethical monkey tests.

UNSCIENTIFIC: Monkeys killed in smallpox experiments in the UK and US

At Public Health England in the UK, 24 macaque monkeys were given one of four treatments before being injected with a virus to cause monkeypox. The monkeys suffered a number of severe symptoms including nearly 200 skin lesions, a loss of almost 20% of their body weight and difficulty breathing. One animal died from the disease, another was killed due to “severe” symptoms and the surviving monkeys were all killed at the end of the experiment. The research, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, aimed to protect people against smallpox, however the animals were injected with ‘monkeypox’, an inappropriate alternative.


In the US, 18 macaque monkeys were shipped from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease in Maryland to Georgia, where they were injected with the smallpox virus. They were then ‘treated’ with either a placebo or the test substance, requiring frequent anaesthesia to monitor effectiveness. Those who survived the experiment, supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), were killed after 28 days. The placebo group suffered an average of 1,500 skin lesions, lost up to 13% of their body weight and three suffered hypothermia.

There is no need to use monkeys for smallpox research. The last known case of the disease was in the late 1970s and it was officially declared as eradicated in 1980. Vaccines for smallpox have already been assessed in people and a number of countries including the UK and US have stockpiles.


Threatened owl monkeys given rabies in Peru

Eight owl monkeys at the Naval Medical Research Unit were injected with the rabies virus and monitored, for which they were repeatedly anaesthetised. Two of the monkeys exhibited rabies symptoms including partial paralysis and convulsions and were killed after two days. The remaining animals, who displayed no symptoms, were killed after 134 days. The study was aimed at controlling the risk of rabies transmission from pet primates to humans, yet all animal to human rabies transmissions in Peru in recent years have been from dogs, who can be vaccinated against rabies, or bats.

This research also goes against efforts to develop a non-animal method of a rabies vaccine for new world monkeys due to the large number of animals needed for such research and the significant pain and distress it can cause.

Each of the painful tests described above were completely unnecessary and unscientific. In addition to the flaws mentioned, even though monkeys are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, how they are affected by disease cannot be translated to people.

Sadly in the UK alone over 2,000 monkeys are experimented on each year; in the US the figure is over 70,000. Many monkeys are imported from countries like Mauritius where the NAVS has exposed terrible suffering on breeding farms. With the exception of Air France, all major passenger airlines have ceased their involvement in this brutal trade


  • Urge your MP to support an end to the use of primates in research – contact them here
  • Urge your MEP to support a ban on monkey experiments – contact them here
  • Contact Air France KLM to tell them you will be flying with other airlines until they pledge to stop transporting primates for research

Thanks for taking a few moments to help monkeys suffering in breeding facilities and laboratories around the world this International Primate Day. Together we can save the primates.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society